bus fire
Photo by Keith Krosinsky

“Dear PoPville,

Today [Tuesday] while I was walking home from work up North Capital St I witnessed smoke that started to pour out of a shuttle bus that was parked on the closed off section of the O St NE unit block. This smoke quickly turned dark black and I proceeded to phone in what was apparently a fire to 911. As I did so large flames began to emerge from the vehicle, and a number of apparently homeless people began to exit from a number of other similar shuttle buses parked nearby. One of these people thanked me for phoning in the fire but that proceeded to immediately ask if I had any money. The fire quickly engulfed the vehicle and I could feel that heat of the flames from at least 25 yards away. I just hope that no one was trapped in that bus.

I thought that it was worth writing in about this issue for a number of reasons.

I have noticed that this odd section of O St NE, which is fenced off at both ends and contains a number of apparently disused shuttle buses has become something of a squatter camp for homeless people and I have often noticed them milling about the immediate area during the evenings. This is an area near the Washington Firehouse Restaurant (somewhat ironic) and and the NOMA metro station and this block adds a particular level of blight to an area that has been improving in recent years. I don’t understand why this street is shut off, why these buses are haphazardly parked in the area and why it has been allowed to become a defacto camp for homeless people. Apparently something went wrong (to my untrained eye it appeared that an accelerant might have been involved as the fire spread extremely quickly), and this would seem to demonstrate the type of public safety hazard that squatter camps can impose.

I also wanted to bring up an issue that has been discussed on PoP recently, namely 911 call response times. My call to 911 was immediately answered (a good thing since I was apparently the first person to phone it in) and fire trucks were dispatched before the call was over. DC Fire & EMS arrived within 5 minutes of my call and quickly extinguished the fire. Not sure if the quick response time was due to it being a vehicle fire but I thought it was worth mentioning that, at least in this case, DC 911 and emergency services performed as any DC resident would hope.”

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Photo taken 7:10, Tuesday by Rob Rutledge.

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Thanks to all who tweeted and emailed us.

@Jcalhounk tweeted the photo above around 6:45am:

“@PoPville residential fire on Kenyon between Sherman and 11th. At least 5 engines but it looks like it’s almost out.”

From @dcfireems:

“UPDATE: 1000blk of Kenyon St NW. 3 FFs transported w/minor injuries”

“UPDATE: Fire: 1000blk of Kenyon St NW. 2pts transported. critical injuries.”

“UPDATE: 1000blk of Kenyon St NW. 3 families displaced. 9 ppl total.”

Update from MPD:

“The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a death that occurred in the 1000 block of Kenyon Street NW. On Monday, April 6, 2015 at approximately 6:26 am, members of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the report of a house fire in the 1000 block of Kenyon Street, Northwest. An adult male and an adult female were found during fire suppression operations. Both victims were transported to a local hospital for treatment. The adult female succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead. The adult male was admitted to the hospital.

The decedent has been identified as 81 year-old Tillie Jones of Northwest, Washington DC.

The case is being investigated by members of the Arson and Explosives Task Force, which includes members from MPD, DCFEMS, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.”

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‏@RarityInForm tweets us just after 8am:

“Fire @ VIDA 17th & U. Flames visible on the roof deck. Good thing the fire dept. across the street. @PoPville”

@dcfireems “Update: Fire is knocked down. Units checking for extension. #dctraffic”

@IAFF36 tweeted:

“1600 block of U St NW had some pallets on fire on the roof of a 4 story building which has been extinguished. traffic delays #dctraffic”

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A few readers have emailed and tweeted about a plume of smoke visible in NE. @dcfireems tweeted:

“Update – 2200blk 33rd St NE – large truck & propane tank on fire, extinguishing fire, hazmat unit requested #DCFD”

“UPDATE: fire knocked down. no inj reported. #dctraffic”

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A reader on the ground reports just after 1:30pm:

“The focus of fire-fighting efforts is a row house on the east side of Georgia Avenue, just south of Quincy – next door to the Petworth Market. I saw no flames or smoke, but ladders and hoses deployed in front and behind that building. Traffic on Georgia Avenue is blocked in both direction between New Hampshire and Quincy. Fire vehicles occupy the street.”

@dcfireems tweets:

“Report of Fire – 3700blk of Georgia Ave NW – Units on the scene. Update: Fire has been extinguished. Units looking for extension. #dctraffic”